On January 14 Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace. The treaty in Kiel, Germany, which took place on that day in 1814 meant peace between the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Kingdom of Sweden on one side and the Kingdoms of Denmark and Norway on the other side. It ended the hostilities between the parties in the ongoing Napoleonic Wars (in which the UK and Sweden were anti-French).

The date may not be significant to the rest of the world, but in actuality it paved the way for the modern Nordic countries, the year 1814 is the year the Nordic countries end up fighting with each other and begin building more peaceful relations. Democracy follows also, but much later.

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In Norway the year 1814 is called ”the miracle year”. In the first draft in Kiel, Denmark was to yield all of Norway to Sweden. But Norwegian Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands were never to become Swedish territory as Danish diplomat Edmund Bourke managed to mix up the cards for Sweden’s chief negotiatior Gustaf af Wetterstedt. Actually Sweden did have to fight one more war; the so-called Swedish-Norwegian War was fought in the summer of 1814, to persuade the Norwegians to join the Kiel Treaty. This was to lead to the union between Norway and Sweden, but the foundation for an independent and democratic Norway had already been laid on, you guessed it, May 17 the same year. Denmark managed, in that nearly sneaky way, to take over the North Atlantic islands and thus build its own trading empire. Iceland became independent from Danish rule on June 17 in 1944. Today the Faroe Islands are under the sovereignty of Denmark, and Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.